Inside Athletics

Seven Australians to compete in the NCAA Div I Cross Country Championships

Three Australians whose home towns span the extent of our island continent will are part of the Villanova men's cross country team at this weekend's NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Patrick Tiernan from Toowoomba, Sam McEntee from Perth and Jordan Williamsz from Melbourne make up almost half of the team who will take to the 10km course for Villanova under the tutelage of former Irish miler Marcus O'Sullivan.

They will be joined in the 255 strong field by Matt Johnsen (Lamar University), while Brooke Cassar (Arkansas State), Linden Hall (Florida State) and Grace Thek (Providence) will compete in the women's race.

Tiernan is expected to fare best, following his recent win in the Mid-Atlantic Regional. The 19-year-old covered the 10km course in 29:37 in what has been described as a comfortable effort by observers.

"At about the halfway mark I made a little bit of a move," Tiernan said.

"It was a controlled effort but a good effort. I still feel like I need to find another gear to run in next week. That will be a team thing.

"We all know it will be the last race of the season and that gives the whole team another gear. The other guys have told me that Nationals is a great atmosphere and we are all anxious to run in it. There will be some nerves but that just makes you run faster."

Despite the quality of his performance, such is the depth of the field that statistical projections published on FloTrak suggest only a 49th place finish for Tiernan.

In the women's race Cassar, from Wollongong, is the top ranked Australian. Her transformation during her first year at Arkansas State has been remarkable. Having left Australia as an 18 minute 5km runner, she has recorded performances under 21 minutes over wet and muddy 6km cross country courses.